Instituting a bonus incentive project is one approach farmers markets are using to attract SNAP customers. These projects provide matching “bonus dollars,” in the form of tokens or paper coupons, for purchases made with SNAP benefits. The incentives, funded by private foundations, non-profit organizations and local governments, are structured to improve the purchasing power of low-income families at farmers markets, so that they can afford to buy more fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods.
While FNS fully supports healthy incentive projects, these projects run counter to SNAP “equal treatment” regulations, which specify that “no retail food store may single out coupon users for special treatment in any way.” Therefore, farmers markets that plan to implement a bonus incentive project, or are already operating an incentive project, must inform the appropriate FNS Regional Office (http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns-regional-offices) during their initial authorization or subsequent reauthorization to participate in SNAP. No reporting, other than that required by the sponsoring organization, is required to comply with FNS rules and regulations.